SAN ANTONIO - The numbers keep growing as 52 million American over the age of 12 have abused prescription drugs in the United States. This type of abuse is on the rise across the country.
On Tuesday, leaders in the medical, law enforcement, and education community came together to combat prescription drug abuse in Bexar County.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse says that 1 in 9 young people between the ages of 12 to 25 have said that they have used prescription drugs for non-medical reasons within the past year.
Jaime Valdes says that he was a drug addict for decades and took anything he could get his hands on: methamphetamine, cocaine, marijuana, alcohol, and Xanax.
"There was a point where my drug dealer told me to go get help," Valdes said. "He stopped selling to me. That's how bad it got."
After spending five years in prison, Valdes entered recovery and has been clean for four and a half years. He says that prescription drug abuse can be a silent killer as many people don't think it's a big deal because the pills aren't illegal.
"It's safe to the person it's prescribed for, taken in the amount that it's prescribed for. So, again, the risk, the danger comes in taking prescriptions that are not prescribed to you and over-taking medication in higher amounts," said Abigail Moore, CEO for the San Antonio Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse.
Tuesday's prescription drug summit focused on prevention strategies. Experts say that both the access and disposal of pills have to be handled carefully to make sure pills stay out of the wrong hands.
Valdes is going to school to become a counselor and works in the same treatment center he went to when he began his journey in recovery.
Experts say that they've seen teens misusing prescription drugs for a variety of reasons: to lose weight, to stay alert to study, or to sleep or relax. They say that a good tip for parents is to make sure that any prescriptions they have at home are locked away and that you monitor the prescriptions on a regular basis.
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